A meniscal tear is a tear in the meniscus. The meniscus is cartilage, which acts as a shock-absorbing structure in the knee. There are 2 menisci in each knee, a medial one on the inside, and a lateral one on the outside.
There are different types of tears depending on the location and how they look. Treatment depends on the severity of the tear.
Most injuries to the meniscus are caused by trauma. This usually includes compression and twisting of the knee. Because the aging process breaks down the inner tissues of the meniscus, minor trauma can injure the meniscus in an older adult.
Older adults and men are at increased risk. Factors that may increase your risk of:
Occupations that involve kneeling and squatting
Previous knee injuries
Participating in contact sports, such as soccer or rugby
Poor techniques for jumping, landing, pivoting, and cutting
Symptoms may include:
A popping sound at the time of the injury
Pain and swelling in the knee
Tightness in the knee
Locking up, catching, or giving way of the knee
Tenderness in the joint
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your knee may need to be viewed. This can be done with:
Knee sprains and meniscal tears. Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries_poisoning/fractures_dislocations_and_sprains/knee_sprains_and_meniscal_injuries.html. Updated August 2017. Accessed March 27, 2018.
Meniscal tears. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/meniscus-tears/. Updated March 2014. Accessed March 27, 2018.
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